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The much-publicised and anticipated inaugural Ghana Football Business Expo came off the plush Hilton Post Oak hotel in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday.
The elegant ceremony put together by the Ghana-Houston Chamber of Commerce, the Ghana Football Association, RGG Sports LLC of Tampa and the Business Development Ministry, drew a sizable crowd of Ghanaian and American-based businesses seeking to broaden their frontiers and become global brands.
It was also an opportunity for businesses to network and strike deals that will potentially outlive the one two day business expo.
Some of the dignitaries that graced the Expo were: George Yaw Owusu, the man credited with Ghana’s oil find and former Country Manager of Kosmos Energy. He was joined by Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyi, Business Development Minister, Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, and deputy Youth and Sports Minister, Pius Hadzide.
For the uninitiated, the idea of the Business Expo was to use the Black Stars’ two friendly football matches to open opportunities for Ghanaian and American businesses to interact in Houston, Texas, and Hartford, Connecticut.
The trade show was also to offer Ghanaian businessmen/women an opportunity to invest in the U.S and establish an international presence as well as offer U.S multinationals the opportunity to make an impact on the African continent through Ghana as the gateway.
Mr. Solomon Tamakloe, the Chairman of the Ghana-Houston Chamber of Commerce, who performed the official opening of the Business Expo implored businesses present at the event, especially Ghanaian businessmen based in Houston and the United States, in general, to actively consider returning to Ghana to invest in the economy.
“Houston is the business capital city of the United States and so it is appropriate that we hold this Expo here. We want your support and by hard work we will make this an annual event”.
“We want to make Accra the hub the business and airline hub of West Africa and because of that we are working to have a direct flight from Houston to Accra.”
Mr. George Owusu, former Country Manager of Kosmos Energy said he was happy Ghana is here for trade and not aid.
“Ghana and Africa is developing and I always advice my business partners to go and invest there”.
To the Ghanaian business community, he said, “Ghana is the only country that we have and it is therefore important to pull resources together and go and contribute to the development of the country”.
For Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyi, the GFA considers this expo a big opportunity for local companies to market Ghana as the preferred destination for investment in Africa by exploring the cordial relationship that has existed between Ghana and the US.
In an attempt to woo investors, the GFA President, who doubles as the Vice-President of the Confederation of African Football, said “research suggests that football is the best platform to advertise any business in the world. In Ghana, football is the most popular brand and thus should be used as the vehicle to drive businesses.”
Speaking about his observation during the Expo, Kwesi Nyantakyi said “this has been an eventful interaction which has far reaching implications long after this expo has ended”.
The final speaker was Business Development Minister, Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, who reiterated government’s desire to support businesses grow by providing the most suitable and enabling working environment.
“Because of our desire to see businesses grow, we have abolished about six nuisance taxes. This is a strong indication that you are welcome to invest in the economy and help government to achieve its target of moving Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current 3.5 percent to 7 percent by the end of the year.
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